It's not a great secret that the Miami Dolphins could use an edge defender after their offseason moves, and we profiled a little while back two really good prospects from the University of Miami.
But Jaelan Phillips, unlike Gregory Rousseau, didn't start his career at UM. He started at UCLA, where his first head coach was Jim Mora Jr.
Phillips eventually left UCLA after sitting out a year and went to Miami, and he left that school as a bona fide elite NFL prospect.
In fact, maybe the only concern with Phillips, based on most reports, is his injury history, which includes a couple of concussions.
But the way Mora talks about Phillips, he makes a pretty convincing argument for the Dolphins taking Phillips to replace the departed Kyle Van Noy and Shaq Lawson.
“There's no medical history," Mora said. "That's not an accurate assessment. There were things that went on after I left UCLA with Jalen that I don't think are accurately reported or accurately documented. People talk about a concussion history. I think like a lot of players, he may have had a concussion, maybe two — and I don't ever want to downplay those — but there were other factors at play that led to him leaving UCLA.
"I think was a great move for him. I have a tremendous relationship with him. I can tell you this without hesitation, without even the slightest hesitation, if I have an opportunity to draft Jaelan Phillips, I would want him on my team."
Phillips is projected as a likely first-round pick and based on potential alone he just might be the best prospect among the edge defenders in this draft.
But More likes his intangibles just as much.
"I’d want him in the locker room with the men around him," Mora said. "He's a leader. He's got great energy. He's a tremendous person. He comes from a great background. His family is supportive but they're not overwhelming. They're there for him. He's been through the fires; he's come out the other side a better man. He understands life and he's extremely motivated, and that has nothing to do with the amazing talent that he brings to your team.”
Phillips has been mocked to the Dolphins at number 18 — then again, the number of prospects who can say that is quite large given the abundance of mocks — and it's questionable they'd be able to get him at number 36.
On the Dolphins defense, Mora says Phillips has the versatility to do just about everything Brian Flores would ask of him.
"He is a supremely talented athlete," Mora said. "I see comparisons to (former Chargers linebacker) Shawne Merriman. I think those are probable accurate. I mean, he can get after the passer. If he just pins his ears back and goes, he can go. But he also has the athleticism to drop. I think that's one of the things that makes him so attractive is that there's not a team out there that can't use a guy like Jaelan Phillips.
"If you’re a 3-4 team, I can promise you, he can play outside linebacker, he can drop into space, he can react and make open-field tackles. If you're a 4-3 team, you can put him at right end and you can cut it loose. He's got hand strength to hold the edge in the run, and he's got pass rush moves and energy to just get after it. He's one of those guys that if he doesn't beat with his first move, you better get rid of the football because he's going to win late in the down because of his tenacity.”